Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland in May 2019, and the earlier than expected debut of this land will upend crowd calendars for the rest of 2019 and into 2020. In this post, we’ll offer revised predictions for the best and worst months to visit for the year following Star Wars Land in terms of crowds and wait times. We’ll also pick three weeks we’d visit with a bit of explanation as to why.
In so doing, the goal is to offer month by month ranks that strive towards objectivity, meaning they consider only anticipated wait times and attendance. In the past, we’ve avoided such an approach in favor of more holistic advice tailored around crowds, as well as weather, special events, entertainment, and more.
Knowing that the subjective “best” times to visit with seasonal festivities, weather, and more taken into account matters to at least some of you, the three weeks we recommend at the end of the post will be predicated upon a blend of crowds and special events. (Our favorite times of year at Disneyland are the holidays, and we couldn’t in good conscience recommend skipping that in favor of ‘refurbishment season.’)
While this is a calendar of the year to come at Disneyland that discusses crowds, it should not be construed as a crowd calendar, at least in the strict sense of the term. As we cautioned in our 2019 Disneyland Crowd Calendar: When To Visit guide, “due to the significant changes that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will bring in crowd patterns, it’s impossible to predict how that will impact attendance and congestion. We would caution against relying on any specific prognostications when planning a 2019 or 2020 Disneyland trip, as this new land is something totally unprecedented.”
That assessment remains true, as we remain skeptical of granular day-by-day predictions at this point. While we hope to resume our day by day Disneyland crowd calendars at some point in the future, that simply cannot happen until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been open for a while and we have a chance to observe how new crowd trends compare to prior ones.
Instead, we’ve offering more generalized predictions here. Our rationale is that certain overarching trends coupled with seasonal tourism numbers to Southern California, Los Angeles and Orange County school schedules, and Annual Pass blockout dates can form the basis for reasonable–but not completely accurate–predictions about relative crowd levels.
Along those lines, the same caveats apply here as were enumerated in the introduction to our Revised 2019 Walt Disney World Crowd Predictions. Basically, these are our best guesses and no one–not even Disney–has perfect foresight as to what Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will bring with it in terms of crowds, wait times, and generalized chaos.
One thing to note with regard to Disneyland, which is an important way it differs from Walt Disney World, is that the local fanbase is passionate. There are literally millions of Disney enthusiasts in Southern California, and it’s deeply ingrained in the culture.
Coverage of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will consume the local media and it’ll be a hot topic of conversation at every coffee shop in L.A. and Orange County this summer. Being able to say you’ve been to Batuu and piloted the Millennium Falcon will afford serious bragging rights, and not just among Disney fans. (Californians love status symbols!)
The ‘thirst to be first’ will be far greater among Disneyland locals than it will be among Walt Disney World locals. This plus the fact that locals make up a far larger guest demographic at Disneyland than tourists means there won’t be any lull in the first few months Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open.
With that in mind, here are our tentative predications as to how every one of the 12 months following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ranks at Disneyland ranks in order of worst to best…
12. June 2019 – The first two months that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open will be the worst two months it’s open. Which ends up being the worst is debatable. In June’s “favor” are the facts that it’s opening month, Annual Passholders aren’t blocked out, Grad Nites are occurring, and media buzz will be at its pinnacle. To make matters even worse, the desperately needed Pixar Pals parking structure won’t open until July 2019.
On the other hand, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be reservation-only through June 23, 2019. That should keep most locals who are unable to score those coveted reservations far away from the chaos of Disneyland Resort. Except it won’t, because people never pay attention to details like this. Expect June 2019 to take the crown as the ‘most absolutely bananas‘ month in Disneyland history.
11. July 2019 – If June is absolutely bananas on our highly scientific crowd calendar scale, then July 2019 ranks a half point below that as totally bonkers.
Just as the AP blockouts start to stem the flow of locals into Disneyland, an influx of summer tourists, all looking to be among the first to experience Star Wars Land, will take their place. Additionally, implementation of the virtual “boarding pass” timed entry system could really impact attendance among locals.
10. August 2019 – This will be the first month that Disneyland isn’t some degree of bananas or bonkers, and it doesn’t occur until midway through the month, when local schools start going back into session. Even then, it’ll still be a bit batty on our crowd seismometer.
Los Angeles County schools go back into session August 20, 2019. Orange County schools go back into session on August 12, 2019, granting a temporary reprieve from crowds then. Unfortunately, Deluxe Annual Pass blockouts are lifted a before both dates, on August 20, 2019. No rest for the weary.
9. December 2019 – Even the beginning of December is pretty crowded at Disneyland. And for good reason–everything else about December at Disneyland is great, from the cool weather to all things Christmas. (Consult our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disneylandfor more on why this is the greatest time of year at the parks.)
Unfortunately, locals recognize this, and prioritize visiting in December. Add to that tourists, who are drawn to the parks for the holidays, and it’s a recipe for heavy attendance. We expect Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to see no reprieve from the crowds even in December–it could very well be just as busy as the summer.
8. October 2019 – Even before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the ‘situation’ in October has been deteriorating for the last several years. An increase in popularity of the seasonal attraction overlays in both parks plus more Mickey’s Halloween Party (consult our Ultimate Guide to Halloween at Disneylandfor more info) dates adding to crowd levels on non-party dates has really mucked up crowds.
Additionally, Utah and Nevada each have their own holidays that coincide with October, and Disneyland is a popular travel destination. There’s also Columbus Day and Rosh Hashanah to compound matters. Consequently, Disneyland has already had parking ‘issues’ on random weeknights in October, and we’d only expect that to be worse this year with Star Wars Land thrown into the mix.
7. November 2019 – Christmas kicks off at Disneyland Resort in early November, and there are typically two big surges in the month: first for Veterans Day weekend and then again for Thanksgiving week. In between should be a decent sweet spot of nice weather, lower crowds, and Christmas decorations.
Unlike the Florida parks, Christmasstarts all at once in Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and the resorts, so there’s no downside to visiting before Thanksgiving. This makes mid-November is an unbeatable time to visit.
6. September 2019 – While the entirety of September is off-season (with hotel prices reflecting that), one thing to keep in mind here is that Southern California Select Annual Passes have their summer blockout lifted after Labor Day. They will swarm to Disneyland for what is likely their first chance to experience Rise of the Resistance (even if it’s not yet open for some inexplicable reason, they’ll still arrive in droves).
Additionally, Halloween Time is likely to start on September 6, 2019, and that will cause a first-weekend spike in attendance from locals. Accordingly, it’d be a smart move to avoid the first couple weeks of the month. Otherwise, we love the month of September, particularly the second half.
5. April 2020 – Easter will occur April 12, 2020, and the week before the holiday is a proxy for Spring Break dates for Los Angeles County school districts. Orange County has its Spring Break the week prior. This means that the first half of April will be pure anarchy with a mix of locals and tourists from other western states who also have the holiday week off.
For many of these visitors, it’ll be the first chance they have to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and they will prioritize it accordingly. The good news is that after that first couple weeks, crowds should die-down significantly, and the second half of the month could offer a temporary respite from the crowds.
4. March 2020 – March is typically Spring Break season for school districts that don’t base their dates around the Easter holiday. While this does not include either of the counties that heavily feed the AP population in Southern California, it does include many in Utah and Nevada.
Other Spring Breaks for out of state schools will be scattered throughout the month, but they shouldn’t be too bad. The first week of March is the best bet of the month, with low, pre-break crowd levels and mild temperatures.
3. May 2020 – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge doesn’t open until the last day of May 2019, so we’re not even counting it. (But in case you’re wondering, that one day would rank as #13 on this list.) Ultimately, May ranks highly because it’s a month that has reliably moderate crowds, and by the time May 2020 rolls around, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be almost one year old.
This doesn’t mean it’s popularity will be fading, but it does mean that most locals will have made their first visit. It also means Disneyland Operations will have a year of experience, and should be more adept at handling the crowds. While it wouldn’t be our first choice, May isn’t a poor choice.
2. February 2020 – The beginning of the year marks “refurbishment season” at Disneyland, which is exactly what the name suggests. In addition to a surplus of attractions down for maintenance keeping guests away, the fact that it’s winter in Southern California also makes it a slow month for local tourism. In the past, this has been partially offset with aggressive ticket deals for residents, but we’d expect Disneyland to cool these a bit for 2020.
All things considered, January and February are pretty much a tie, with each having their own holidays (avoid the late month holiday weeks in each) downsides. If forced to choose, we are inclined to give January a slight edge, primarily because of the holiday spikes in crowds that fall in February.
1. January 2020 – While the week after New Year’s is still out of session for local schools (and is still technically Christmas season in terms of decor and entertainment), crowds drop off a cliff after that.
You also have the absolute lowest weekday crowds of the year in mid-January, and these low crowds coupled with jacket weather make for a perfect time to visit Disneyland. There also tends to be some rain in Anaheim during January, and those rainy days are the absolute best options for visiting. Californians hate rain!
Best Times to Visit
Want to cut past all of those rankings and simply looking for a point-blank recommendation as to when you should visit Disneyland? Here are our 3 favorite date ranges of the year (we assume most of you aren’t spending a full week at Disneyland, but if you are, simply extend those dates before and/or after–what’s listed is the true sweet spot), followed by some explanation:
Before Thanksgiving Week (November 18-22, 2019)
Third week of September (September 16-20, 2019)
Post-Holidays (January 13-17, 2020 or February 3-7, 2020)
If you’ve read our previous Disneyland crowd guides, you’ll notice these weeks are nearly identical to what we have listed there, and for good reason. Our first (and favorite) week to visit is the week before Thanksgiving week. Christmas season at Disneyland starts the weekend before this and Veterans Day is over, meaning you have a week gap between the start of Disneyland’s holiday season and the start of actual holiday travel. This is a ‘sweet spot’ for lower crowds, perfect weather, and seasonal entertainment.
The third week of September ranks highly because it’s after school is back in session, offers a bit of a buffer between the end of summer AP blockout dates being lifted, and also coincides with Halloween Time at Disneyland, which we love. The following week might be as good or better, but we’re worried that Halloween crowds will start showing up then. We’re also concerned about more Mickey’s Halloween Party dates that week, which really throws a monkey wrench into crowd predictions.
Finally, the doldrums of January and February. If you don’t care about seasonal offerings or mind a few refurbishments, these two weeks are unquestionably your best option. We anticipate the January dates to have lower crowds, but the February set of dates should have slightly fewer refurbishments, and also Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure, if that matters to you.
Note that this is all relative. Crowds at Disneyland have been swelling since the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration a few years ago, and have not abated. Even now, before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open, the parking structure regularly hits capacity, bag check lines back up, and there’s serious congestion in Disneyland. This will only get worse with Star Wars Land, and we expect things to be varying degrees of bad for the entirety of 2019. However, by choosing wisely, you can have a “less bad” experience with crowds, or perhaps a downright good one if you wait until January or February 2020!
What do you think will be the best and worst months to visit Disneyland post-Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Will there even be a “good” time, or do you expect it to be an awful experience for the foreseeable future? Any specific ideal months/weeks of your own that you’d recommend people visit Disneyland? Any questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!